When the world gets a little crazy, I turn to the practice of QiGong to help center my mind, body and spirit.
You’ve probably heard the term QiGong and may not know what it is or what it does.
I want to share some insights into how this practice can help you focus inward when everything around you feels like it’s out of control.
Let’s start with the meaning of the two words. Qi (pronounced “Chee”) can be translated as “life force”,“energy”, or “vital breath”. Gong (a.k.a. Kung) is more of a general term meaning “work” or “skill”. Together, they can mean “energy work” or “breathing skill”.
QiGong can be described as a Body-Mind-Spirit practice based in movement, intention, and breathing. It is a practice of self-cultivation to bring about a more harmonized internal state, leading to feelings of peace, love, happiness and bliss. It can be used to improve physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. All at the same time.
By moving through various motions and breathing techniques, you activate and circulate qi throughout your body, which opens and smooths the flow of energy through the acupuncture meridians. (Meridians are pathways, connecting various acupuncture points, which carry blood and qi to or away from vital organs in the body.)
This leads to: calming the mind; awakening (or furthering development of) spiritual energy; clearing stress; detoxifying the blood and body; releasing negative emotions; energizing the system; releasing tension and stiffness in muscles; supporting the lymphatic system; increasing lung capacity, providing more oxygen for optimal functioning; harmonizing the nervous system; facilitating communication between conscious and unconscious mind; and promoting overall health and healing. Phew!
QiGong can be seen as not only a style of meditation, but also philosophy and medicine as well. In Eastern traditions, “medicine” is understood as anything that helps. Combining meditation, philosophy and medicine is a true holistic approach. There are thousands of styles of QiGong which generally fall into three categories – martial, medical and spiritual. At the root of all of these styles is the pursuit of balance between Yin and Yang.
The earliest reference to QiGong dates back to the period of The Yellow Emperor, Huang Ti, who may have reigned as early as 2700 B.C. Historians have found records of QiGong movements and dances to ward off illnesses dating back at least 5,000 years. The term QiGong didn’t become generalized until the 20th century. For a more in-depth history of the formation of QiGong, click here.
I’ll leave you with this. In traditional Chinese medicine, stagnation is seen as the cause of all pain, sickness, fatigue and disease. By moving and circulating qi, our bodies stay healthy. Lao-Tzu says it best in his work the Tao Te Ching, “Truly, to be hard and stiff is the way of death; To be soft and supple is the way of life”.
There are a lot of great resources out there that you can do right at home with no previous skills needed. Here’s one from my archives where I teach a simple exercise to relieve stress. Check it out here.